Members Critique

Friday 20th January 2023

The Chairman, Peter Tuitt, welcomed everyone to the studio as he put the first painting by Ann Bullimore on to the easel and Liz Seward, our President, asked everyone to be sure to make considered criticism rather than simply admire.

Peter Tuiit with Ann. Bullimore’s “Rainbow London” painting

That said everyone did admire this scene called ‘Rainbow London’, recognising that Ann had enjoyed splattering to give added interest to a colourful collection of London’s iconic buildings. It was suggested the colour of the mount detracted a little. White was suggested but as one member pointed out, it is often hard to know exactly what colour of white will arrive when purchasing mounts from the internet.

Painting by Sue Whitehead

Sue Whitehead is known for her lovely seascapes and she explained that she had painted the figures featured in the foreground to express feelings and emotions. They are wearing warm clothes to emphasise the idea that this was not a holiday scene but about hope and reflection. People thought it would make a good anniversary card.

Peter showing the reverse of the frame

The fact that the frame did not fit perfectly was noted but this was an early attempt at home-made framing by Craig Whitehead, Sue’s husband. It has to be admitted that the frame’s construction was robust, to say the least.

Ben Jose’s acrylic pour

Ben Jose has been experimenting with acrylic pours. This involves pouring acrylic paint mixed with a medium over a pre-primed canvas. He has tried using ready mixed mediums but he has found that clear PVA glue and distilled water gives a better finish. Ben explained that the high gloss is achieved by using Art-Resin. The gloss has resulted in a large reflection from the lights in this photograph, while the camera does not capture the sparkle and shine from metallic and pearl paints that Ben has used. One member suggested that rather than having the glitter throughout it might be more effective to restrict it to specific areas.

Ben Jose’s very large acrylic pour

This was a very large and fairly heavy piece of artwork,  approximately 81cm x 101cm.  Ben primed the canvas first. He poured all the colours one by one over the dark base colour which he had prepared using ultra marine, raw amber, red etc. He also used silicone oil to get cell effects. He then used a hair dryer to produce the desired movement of the colours. 

The back of Ben Jose’s large piece

After the paint had dried Ben added support to the canvas with cushion board and MDF.

Portrait by Craig Whitehead

People were impressed with the strength of this portrait. The unusual mauve coloured background was admired and the treatment of the hair. Craig has been taking a course and knows that he has yet to achieve the goal he has set himself but there are elements in this painting that have worked for him. The audience agreed.

Portrait by Craig Whitehead

Apologies for the reflections in the glass of this painting. It is a shame if it detracts from another of Craig Whitehead’s portraits. People commented on the strength of character and the expression in his eyes. The treatment of the man’s cap was also applauded by Liz Seward. Once again there are elements that Craig would like to improve but the audience accepted this.

Pastel by Brian Hammans
Detail of the pastel painting

Once again the reflections in the glass are detracting from a delicate painting so here is a detail of an area of the painting unaffected by the reflections. Brian explained that he had followed an art programme during lockdown and this was one of the paintings he produced as a result. It was noticed that the river and the horizon slopped slightly to the left. Brian smiled and retorted that he would remount it moving it up a little which would correct it.

Seascape by Brian Hammans

Brian prefers this painting of the two he brought along for the critique. People liked the framing of both which led to a discussion of frames and mounts. Brian uses The Frame Company, on Amazon; specifically the Watson Range White Picture Photo Frames, either 16 x 20 or 16 x 12. The Watson Range also has a supply of mounts in many different colours.

Mixed media painting by Lesley Kilner

Lesley Kilner explained that she was experimenting with silver and gold acrylic on tissue paper in this painting. The texture and design appealed to the room and Liz Seward suggested that if Lesley wanted to she could make a series with this being the winter element of the four seasons.

Idris Elba by Lesley Kilner

There was an audible gasp from the room when this portrait of Idris Elba was put on the easel. The actor was so clearly recognisable. People commented on the excellent skin colour and the arresting light in the eyes. This portrait began by being painted in red. That colour is now only visible in the T-shirt. Liz Seward commented that it is often a very good idea to work from a warm red base. She likes to work on a medium magenta base.

Acrylic painting on canvas sheet by Carole Head

Carole Head has been attending workshops run by Jamel Akib. Carole has discovered that canvas pads primed with Gesso are good for use with both oil or acrylic paint. Jamel would much prefer his students to paint in oil on stretched canvas but Carole does not have an art studio and the advantage of the pads is that the finished paintings take up very little space. She did wonder how best to frame and exhibit a painting on a canvas sheet. Some suggested framing behind glass while others suggested gluing it to mounting board and not framing it at all.

Oil painting by Terry Ralph

The crusty bread in this oil painting by Terry Ralph was so realistic it looked good enough to eat and someone thought the white wine was clearly Vino Verde. The one criticism was the cabinet in the right corner tended to distract the eye. Liz Seward explained that a much darker background helps to bring a still life forward. She wondered if this painting might not benefit from painting over the dresser and curtain as if they were in deep shadow which would focus attention on the objects on the table.

Cherries in a box by Peter Smith

Peter Smith explained that he has been taking a class with Rebecca Le Tourneau. She set the class the task of doing a painting in a box.  As a result Peter decided to paint these cherries in a box and set the painting in a clever frame that also looks like part of a box. Peter used poly filler to give the cherries form and he used modelling paste bring the paper surrounding the box into relief. Modelling past flows in a way the poly filler does not. The overall effect was very appealing.

Peter decided to develop the idea of putting fruit in a box and he went on to paint three more in a series. He brought the apple on an old book and lemons in a box to the studio but the fourth painting of grapes remains on the wall at his home. The audience agreed that the box project had gone particularly well.

Collage by Patti Dutton

This striking cat was painted by Patti Dutton. It is painted on tissue paper and further texture is added with a variety of material including some sheet music. Patti was not sure she liked the whiskers she added but others did. Collage can used to create texture to paint over or to make the image itself. Patti used a combination of both to good effect.

Before breaking for coffee Liz Seward took the opportunity to talk to everyone about the importance of sketchbooks and making sketches as often as possible. Above is a sketch she made on Week 5 of the lockdown in 2020. A sketchbook can be used to fill in spare time, to capture images for future reference, or just for practice and amusement. Her Lockdown sketchbook helped to put in pictures a unique period of time.

After the break there was still time to view some of the other paintings that the artists above had brought in.

The wet paving stones and light foreground of Patti Dutton’s watercolour painting were commented upon and admired along with the variety of texture in the sky. Patti admitted she used some acrylic for the whites and the deepened the red of the phone box which some watercolour purists would not like, but everyone in the room agreed rules are made to be broken.

Glass bottles by Lesley Kilner

Lesley Kilner’s painting of glass bottles on a deep red velvet material led Liz Seward to remark that this was a good demonstration of how a darker background and lighter foreground can work well and add dimension to a painting. The depiction of velvet material was appreciated by all.

Ben Jose showed an impressive variety of his new work. Each of these pieces had been glossed over with a clear hard veneer. He explained that this is done using 50/50 resin and hardener which is self levelling and produces a hard shiny protective coat to the paintings .

Acrylic thistles by Carole Head

Carole did this painting at a Jamel Akib workshop. The idea was to create a variety of background colour on which to create the image. People liked the colour combination and the treatment of the thistles which Carole said had been done using a fan brush.

A different style again from Lesley Kilner with this landscape painting in acrylic that she did at one of Rebecca Le Tourneau’s classes. There was some discussion about where to put the signature and the advice was to find the least busy area in one of the corners. It was also recommended never to date it.

Ben Jose

The last painting to go up on the stand was this one by Ben Jose. Once again people remarked on the different style he was using here compared to the other work he had shown and they liked the impactful trees.

Variety of image and style had certainly made the evening an interesting and very enjoyable one with lots of discussion and exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Meet the artists

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